I am constantly pegged as an extrovert. It’s not just church people. Even the man I love thinks that I’m an extrovert. But, they are wrong. Yes, even the man I love is wrong. It doesn’t matter how comfortable I seem in new contexts or how I get up and talk in front of people all of the time, I am still an introvert. I can be all about community and seem outgoing but then I hit a wall that makes me want to run away from all of the people. Ask my friend Teri. How she loves to tease me on this fact. Because she knows that I am such an introvert. And she knows this.
I know this. But, it’s a struggle sometimes because when I talk about church — when I talk about why I love church — it’s this big experience where everybody is there and everyone understands and everyone feels the same fire. It’s Pentecost but it’s an introvert’s hell. I know this because as much as I can rise to these occasions, if I were attending, I would be dying in the corner. I would be complaining and saying things like, “not everyone feels that way” and “stop speaking for me.” Because I hate when people do that. And it drives me crazy when people insist that I engage in a certain way. But, I do this to people all of the time. Because I want to grasp and hold onto this big idea of community.
And in the church, it’s big. Everybody is a part of it. Everyone has a place. No one is turned away so that we create these big, open spaces where lots of collaboration can happen. Our offices still look like cubicles, usually. Instead, we have fellowship rooms and social halls and even classrooms that do this really big thing seeking community. But, maybe what we really need is little.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week. At church, we’ve been doing this thing in worship where individuals in the congregation have an opportunity to lead their favorite part of worship. It’s an idea I borrowed from Nadia Bolz Weber’s Pastrix. It’s something her congregation does and I loved the idea of it. I loved the idea of everyone having a part and everyone having a chance to lead. But, maybe what we really needed is little. Because it never felt quite comfortable. It never felt like it fit quite right and maybe that was me. Maybe I didn’t lead it well. Maybe I didn’t welcome folks into the experience enough. Or maybe we just needed more time to practice this new way of leading worship together. Or maybe what I’ve always heard is really true. People come to worship in search of a quiet place. They want a space for reflection and meditation even though they say they want joy (which always sounds big and loud to me). That’s what I need when I worship. I don’t want something that infuses me with lots of energy by getting me up to dance and sing. I want to sit still for a while and have a space to be. (Never mind how this puts me at odds with myself in the ways that I lead worship. That’s a whole other blog post.) Maybe what we really need is little.
That’s what I read in Quest for Quiet about redesigning office space for more quiet. It’s what I heard a colleague in the 2030 Clergy Network voice this week when she wondered about a member of her own congregation who wanted more space for a quiet space to collaborate. Nothing big but something little.